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Best Outdoor Gardens In Pittsburgh

July 11, 2011 8:00 AM

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Pittsburgh has a wide variety of parks and outdoor spaces with beautiful gardens. Here are garden guru Doug Oster’s picks for the best outdoor gardens in Pittsburgh.

Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

One Schenley Drive
Pittsburgh, Pa. 15213
412-622-6914
www.phipps.conservatory.org

There’s no question that Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens located in Oakland is the premier garden destination in and around Pittsburgh. Although best known for the indoor spaces, the outdoor gardens at Phipps are spectacular and can easily be missed when transfixed by the contents of the glasshouse. Seasonal flower shows are a tradition that dates back centuries – the spring show marks the start of the growing season for the area. In August, the Tomato and Garlic Festival offers free admission with a bag of garden produce which goes directly to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Phipps Garden Center

1059 Shady Avenue
Pittsburgh, Pa. 15232
412-441-4442
www.phipps.conservatory.org

Phipps Garden Center in Shadyside is located in Mellon Park. The outdoor gardens were renovated in 2010 and offer a new look to a traditional design. The lawn area near the garden center has a fascinating art installation embedded in the turf. The garden center is the location of many local flower shows and is where many of the Phipps educational programs are taught to gardeners of all levels.

Temple Emanuel’s Holocaust Memorial Garden

1250 Bower Hill Road
Pittsburgh, Pa. 15243
412-279-7600
www.templeemanuelpgh.org

Temple Emanuel’s Holocaust Memorial Garden in the South Hills of Pittsburgh is the smallest, but possibly the most important garden featured. The late Marga Randall, a Holocaust survivor, founded the garden with the help of master gardener Lynn Rubin. Each one of the plants growing here has a symbolic relationship with the Holocaust.

Kennywood Amusement Park

4800 Kennywood Boulevard
West Mifflin, Pa. 15122
412-461-0500, dial “0″ for operator
www.kennywood.com

Some of the most overlooked gardens in the Pittsburgh area are at Kennywood Amusement Park in West Mifflin. The park has a long tradition of great planting areas and tall shade trees. There are more than 130 planting areas cared for at the park. In early summer, take a walk behind the Pittsburgh Plunge to enjoy the intoxicating aroma of the linden trees — it’s magical. The flower clock has been in the park as long as anyone can remember. It is one of the last ones in the country. The garden near the carousel was built and dedicated to the veterans of WWI; it is the largest planting area in the park. A giant statue of George Washington centers one bed. He was said to have camped there as a young officer before crossing the Monongahela River during the French and Indian War. Next time you take a trip to Kennywood, take some time to see what’s planted around the park; the gardens are spectacular and becoming a lost art at theme parks around the country.

Biblical Botanic Garden

4905 5th Avenue
Pittsburgh, Pa. 15213
412-621-6566
www.rodefshalom.org

The Biblical Botanic Garden at Rodef Shalom Temple in Shadyside highlights a different theme from the Bible each season. The plants are well marked with explanations about how they were used in the Bible. It’s a beautiful garden, and often there are docents available who will give free tours of the landscape.

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